Half Million People Attend Levoca Pilgrimage at Weekend

People waiting in a queue for confession in front of the Basilica of Visitation of Our Lady on Marian Hill in Levoca during the annual pilgrimage. (Photo by TASR)

Levoca, July 8 (TASR) – Around 500,000 people at the weekend alone attended the annual multi-day pilgrimage marking the Feast of Visitation of Our Lady (July 2) on Marian Hill in Levoca (Presov region), co-organiser of the pilgrimage Jozef Lapsansky told TASR on Sunday.

The main Mass of the pilgrimage (July 1-8) on Sunday, celebrated by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was also attended by Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD), several national and local officials and a relatively large group of pilgrims from Romania.

“Our trademark isn’t the vainglory of reason, an aggressive selling of our ideology, the removal of those who think differently, hatred, incitement to destruction or machismo. We aren’t ashamed of our devotion having the features of a female spouse,” said the German cardinal in his sermon.

According to Lapsansky, many people came to Levoca actually walking or riding bikes over dozens of kilometres, while priests witnessed an enormous amount of interest not only in Masses, but also confessions.

A chapel has existed on Marian Hill since at least the 13th century, when the location was being used as a refuge by people from Levoca during the Tatar invasions. In the 15th century, the chapel was rebuilt as a Gothic church, dedicated to the Visitation of Our Lady, before undergoing a Baroque reconstruction in the 18th century and another in the early 20th century. Pope John Paul II upgraded the church to a Basilica Minor in 1984 and he himself visited the site in 1995 with 650,000 people in attendance.